Burden of Guilt

As Flies to Wanton Boys

These Characters are the property of the Estate of J. R. R Tolkien and New Line Cinema. This story has been written for pleasure and no profit has been or will be made from it.

Warning – This chapter contains material, which some readers may find distressing.

Special thanks to Lily for her help with this and the subsequent few chapters.

"As flies to wanton boys, are we to the gods; They kill us for their sport." William Shakespeare - King Lear

Aragorn he leapt to his feet and hurried outside. Hampered by the sprained ankle, Faramir could only sit and wait to find out what was happening.

He pulled on his tunic, thinking that if a messenger had come on official business, he should at least aim to look presentable.

Outside the hovel, a bedraggled and rain soaked Eowyn was struggling to dismount from Windfola and refusing all offers of help from the Guards.

Aragorn waved them back as he approached her. "What is wrong, Eowyn?" he asked, his eyes full of concern. "Why are you here instead of with Arwen in Minas Tirith?"

"The messenger told me where you had found Faramir and that he was still alive but nothing more, so I felt I should come to see what was happening. They said he fell from his horse, so I feared it was badly hurt." she replied, while Aragorn lifted her from the horse. " Then when you did not return, I became more and more worried. But now I think the baby is coming, the pains started on the way here!"

She bit back a cry and would have fallen, had Aragorn not held her. He sighed inwardly at her folly, but this was not the time to berate her.

"I know I shouldn't have ridden so far in my condition, but I was so worried," she said, reading his expression. "How is Faramir?"

"Much better than he has been since the day he was attacked." Aragorn told her, as he carried her inside." He fell from his horse and sprained his ankle and cracked some ribs, but after sharing a Thought Bond with me, he allowed me to heal him and is recovering well, though it will take time for him to heal completely. His heart is strengthening and the beat is almost back to normal. His appetite has returned too."

"The Valar be praised!" Eowyn exclaimed momentarily forgetting her own plight until another contraction hit her. "Oh why was I such a fool to endanger our child, it is far too soon for it to be born, it should not be for at least another month!"

"I will do all I can." Aragorn promised, though inwardly dismayed at the turn events had taken. "Though I know very little about childbirth, it being entirely a women's' matter.

Damrod came out to see what was happening and Aragorn thought quickly. This man was native to the area and every village had a wise woman who would attend those in childbirth. It was doubtful such a woman would be a skilled midwife, but it would be better than nothing as there was no time to fetch Ioreth, as despite his limited knowledge, he knew when the contractions were as frequent as Eowyn's, the birth was imminent.

" You know this area well, Damrod. Are there any nearby villages?" he asked.

"Yes, Sire, the village where I was born is but a few leagues from here. The people have returned since Sauron's defeat. The land is fertile and good for farming in these parts."

"Then take Lord Faramir's horse and ride there as fast as you can and bring the village wise woman here! " he ordered "Or failing that any woman who has attended another in childbirth. Go quickly!"

"Yes, Sire!" Damrod was already saddling Iavas as he spoke. Apart from Roheryn, the chestnut mare was the swiftest horse present and the most fully rested. From the way she tossed her head, she was obviously eager for some exercise.

Aragorn carried Eowyn inside and carefully set her down on the bedroll, which fortunately had not yet been packed away.

Faramir hobbled anxiously towards them. "Eowyn what has happened?" he enquired anxiously, dropping on his knees beside her and drawing her close to place a tender kiss on her lips.

"I'm so sorry," she whispered, reaching out for his hand. "I came after you and I've endangered our child!"

"I should not have run away like that, My Love, I am sorry too."

"This is no time for recriminations!" Aragorn said firmly, unearthing a clean shirt and some blankets from the packs. "The baby is on the way! Faramir, help your Lady change into that dry shirt and wrap a blanket round her.

He tactfully turned his back and busied himself sorting out his healing supplies, to give her what privacy he could.

Faramir looked about to faint. "The baby now?" he gasped.

"I am no expert on the subject but it seems like it," the King replied soberly without turning around.

"You must do something, help her!" Faramir pleaded.

" I spent the first part of my life with Elves who had not had children for the past thousand years or so, the remainder of the time either as a soldier or with the Rangers, so I know little more than you do, I am afraid." Aragorn informed him gently, wishing fervently that he had the required expertise. Not that it had ever entered his head to wish to study such a delicate female subject!

"But you are the most skilled Healer there is!" Faramir protested.

"For wounds and fevers maybe, but childbirth is a woman's affair. I have sent Damrod to fetch a woman from the nearest village to help." The King replied, trying hard to keep calm, aware his friends were relying on him

"I would be glad of any help you could give as I can tell you what to do, Aragorn. I am not troubled about propriety at a time like this and you are as a brother to me." Eowyn said surprisingly calmly.

Faramir looked at her slightly shocked yet admiring of her courage, for a Gondorian lady would surely be having hysterics by now at being in such a situation

Eowyn had discarded her wet clothes without needing his help and was now clad in one of the shirts she had packed for Faramir .It looked decent enough as it reached almost to her knees. She covered the bedroll with the clean blanket and spread another over herself.

Another contraction hit her, this time so severe that she screamed. "Help me please!" she begged. "Save my baby!" She was now starting to panic and sweat dripped down her face.

"I can ease your pain a little." Aragorn said and knelt at her side, holding one hand a few inches above her swollen belly while with the other rubbing circles on her brow in an Elven relaxation technique.

He had resigned himself to the possibility of delivering the baby, despite the dire impropriety of the situation, as he would do anything to help his friends, though he would rather fight Orcs any day! "Faramir, hold her hand, I need to boil some water," he told his Steward

White as a sheet, Faramir did as he was bidden.

While the water boiled, Aragorn spread Eowyn's clothes by the fire to dry. It had rained heavily during the last few hours and everything from her heavy cloak to her shift was sodden.

Returning to Eowyn's bedside, he washed his hands and then bathed her brow.

"I have to push! " she told him.

"Well you had better do so, you know far more about this than I do!" Aragorn replied, turning almost as pale as Faramir.

"Yes and I know I need to push hard but it is too soon for our baby to survive!" She lamented, dragging herself upright and pacing a few steps before sinking back on the bedroll. "It is too late to do anything thought! It will be born very soon, I know it!"

"I was born too early." Faramir told her, trying to comfort her and becoming calmer now Aragorn had taken charge, "I was tiny but I survived."

Aragorn washed his hands again and slowly rolled up his sleeves, grimly resigned to the fact he must deliver the baby as best he could. He had once helpeda horsebring a foal into the world and could only hope that this would be much the same.

"Can you see the head yet?" Eowyn asked, breathing hard between contractions.

Aragorn blushed as he prepared to investigate.

"Let me go, how dare you bring me here, Master Damrod!" An indignant female voice was suddenly heard outside.

Aragorn smiled with relief. "I do believe Damrod has brought help!" he exclaimed, "Be patient, Eowyn, I will go and bring the midwife to you!"

"Babies come when they want to!" Eowyn retorted as Aragorn rushed outside.

A gnarled and formidable looking lady who appeared even older than Ioreth was struggling indignantly as Damrod lifted her from Iavas' back.

"She wouldn't believe that she was needed to deliver a baby." Damrod explained, "So I just scooped her up and brought her here."

"We apologise, madam, but we urgently need your help. You will be well recompensed for your trouble" Aragorn told her, grasping her arm and shepherding her inside. She relaxed somewhat on hearing Eowyn scream, confirming the veracity of Damrod's story. "Are you an experienced midwife?"

"She is." Damrod called from outside. "She delivered my sister and most of the other babies in the village where I grew up."

The old woman was already washing her hands in the basin the King had been using.

Aragorn and Faramir discreetly turned away and studied the wall intently while she pulled the blanket aside to examine Eowyn.

"Everything will be alright now, Dearie." the old woman soothed, "I'm Dame Enye and have delivered as many bairns as I've had hot dinners! I've only just got here in time, I see, now breathe deeply and push hard!"

Aragorn placed a reassuring hand on Faramir's shoulder as his wife's screams rent the air. "We will wait outside now," he told Eowyn.

"Please stay, don't leave me!" she begged.

"This is most improper but one of you needs to support her, she should have her mother or sister with her!" Dame Enye said. "Who is the father?"

"I am." Faramir said, trying vainly to stand on his damaged ankle.

"A fine lot of use you will be!" Dame Enye snorted, "Your friend here will have to do!"

"He is a Healer," Faramir explained.

"It still highly improper but he will have to do so long as the husband consents ?" Dame Enye retorted.

"I do. I trust him both with my wife and child's lives as well as my own." Faramir said without hesitation.

Eowyn was struggling into a squatting position, so Aragorn positioned himself behind her and while he supported her with one hand, rubbed her back with the other, focussing his gaze on the back of her neck.

He had to admit that, as a healer he was curious about what was happening, but this was his best friend's wife! He could only hope to live up to Faramir's touching faith in him.

"The head is coming, one more big push!" Dame Enye instructed,

Faramir gave a choked cry keeled over in a dead faint. Aragorn hesitated, uncertain whom in most urgent need of his ministrations.

"Concentrate on what you are doing, you dolt, don't let her fall!" she barked at Aragorn, "Never mind about him, it is commonplace if the father is within earshot. You men take your pleasures with little thought of the consequences!"

Eowyn gathered all her strength for a final push and screamed loudly.

She felt as if she was being torn apart as the baby slid from her body into Dame Enye's waiting hands. To their horror it was bluish tinged, unmoving, and made no sound.

"A little girl." Dame Enye announced. "But I fear she isn't breathing."

Eowyn bust into tears." Save my baby!" she pleaded, " She can't be stillborn, she can't be!"

"I'm sorry, Dearie, there's nothing I can do. It obviously isn't meant to be!" the midwife said sadly.


A/N A very big thank you to all my readers for all your kind comments and responses, which continues to amaze and delight me.Here is a swift update to thank you all.

I can only beg you all to keep reading after this dark chapter, as the story is not over yet.

Some of you already have guessed what was going to happen!

I do indeed hope to include Elbeth in a sequel.

Eomer is still recovering (and moping) in Minas Tirith.

I like to make my characters as true to life as possible as it is hard to identify with characters that are never tired, hungry, in pain or anything else we do or feel!

I believe Tolkien based Aragorn's use of athelas on a legend in which Charlemagne cured people of a plague using Milk Thistle after a vision!

I have just noticed that this story now has more chapters and comments from my much appreciated readers than "Shadow and Thought" which I never expected to beat !

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